tv [untitled] September 8, 2010 10:30am-11:00am PST
and a connection. what's happened is that there's been vocabulary, language, you know, words are empty boxes until you fill them and define them. there's been language that's been now acceptable and there's been portrayals of situations in life that show up in shows that are addressing substance abuse and mental health. that starts to take the edge off of and the secrecy behind being willing to talk about and address substance abuse or mental health issues that's occurring in an individual's eye in the life of the viewer. you know, you forget when you're in hollywood and you're acting in this little bubble that there is a lot of passion around these areas and when you are able to plug into that passion, you bring that passion back with you and that's just really nice to like, you know, just remember your audience, remember, you know, what we're aiming for. episodes of some of these prime time dramas reach an audience of nearly 15 million people every week
who will record the episode if they're going to miss it or buy the dvd with the full season because of that affinity and the more people can relate to these stories, the more they will seek treatment because they will not feel stigmatized. they will realize that it's treatable and that there certainly is hope and opportunity in recovery. welcome to the 12th annual prism awards, a showcase of entertainment making a difference, presented by the entertainment industries council incorporated in collaboration with the substance abuse and mental health services administration. the entertainment industries council has really been very fortunate in our ability to partner with samhsa on a number of different projects. the prism awards is probably the most high profile project that we do at samhsa. it's a good collaboration because our goals are very compatible,
getting sound information to the general public in the areas of treatment, addiction, recovery, and also in the area of mental health. i've never struggled with anything myself. i do know from delving into this man, orrin hunt, who is dealing with his, you know, disorder, there is a lot of hope. it's not a thing you're stuck with; it's a thing that is a journey. it's part of a journey and it might be hard sometimes, but it's definitely, if you take the right steps, and everything is surmountable, i think. as we all were working on "crazy heart," we knew men and women who had struggled with addiction, we can't really know what that's like, how hard it is, but we used inspiration from friends and family members that we all knew and know that you can change your life. bottom line, this is not a short-term process.
the minute these types of programmings and this type of thrust vanishes, so does the affect that the media has on this issue. so we're in it for the long haul and the entertainment industry is in it for the long haul. and a lot of the creative people that we've been working with over the years now are in it for the long haul and we all recognize that change does not come overnight. so i think you're going to see, you know, a very consistent and ongoing participation from the entertainment industry at various levels. mark, talk to us about how samhsa gets engaged and involved in all these issues. well, part of that is, you know, samhsa has made public awareness and support around addiction, prevention, mental illness one of its top priorities. rarely do you see a federal agency that identifies communications as a top priority. that means we need to be part, communications needs to be part of everything that is coming out of the agency so we'll be involved in things
from the development of treatment programs and grants and products to continuing our support as an integral part of recovery month as part of samhsa's public awareness and support initiative. and, indeed, that is one of pamela hyde's 10 strategic initiatives, is it not? it's very impressive. yes. it's...we have 10 strategic initiatives that are being used to align the agency's resources around the top priorities and the 10th priority is public awareness and support. you know, one of the issues that we haven't included in the whole issue of media is the music industry and its role. ron, what would you say about that? i think the music industry plays a large role in how they can portray addiction and recovery. i listen to some of the music my kids listen to, you know, rap music. some of it's great; i like some of it, but a lot of it the words are horrible. it portrays drug use and sexual abuse.
but then, on the other hand, i have great songs that i listen to about recovery, success stories in recovery. aerosmith's amazing; richie supa who wrote amazing also wrote in the rooms who won the prism award in 2009, which is fantastic. there are so many musicians in recovery today. well, nikki sixx; nikki sixx did a whole album, right, mark? absolutely. right. and richie supa is putting out an album now with dozens of recovering musicians from different groups we've all heard of since the 70s and they're producing it now and they're all written about recovery and all the success stories that go with it. so essentially, we've got the internet. and in the internet, we didn't even begin to touch on the whole issue of pharmacies, online pharmacies, and how they contribute. right, mark? the internet is incredibly valuable in terms of
the information that provides access to unlimited resources and with free trade, commerce and opinion and speech, there are people who will take advantage of opportunities and perpetuate some of the less fortunate sides of our society and our approach again is to reward when people do things in an accurate way, make sure that the portrayal is being recognized, so that ultimately somebody would never think of portraying someone in recovery sitting, you know, under a bridge and/or someone who has an addiction because that would be, you know, just not the cool way to do it. and so one step at a time, one program at a time, one writer at a time is the way we eventually will turn this around. doug, why should these industries care as to how they portray this issue? in the long term, it's in their best interest.
i mean, i think you can look at some recent examples of global corporations recognizing that working in the public health interest is really in their long-term interests. i mean, the most obvious current example is the food industry. you know, they run the risk of being the next tobacco industry. if they're portrayed as being culpable in obesity and childhood obesity, and i think you see in recent years that they're recognizing that, a number of food corporations have recently formed a foundation that's focused on obesity prevention. now, certainly part of that is, you know, corporate marketing on their part. but there's definitely a corporate social responsibility aspect as well. and i think if we can seek to harness that in the substance abuse, prevention, and recovery field, if we can take advantage of that and put the power of that need that many corporations have to not only be good citizens but appear to be good citizens,
i think we can make some mileage out of that. and in the meantime, we can also appeal directly to the creative community, to writers. even if they don't care about issues of social good, they do care about their own writing and they care about making their stories compelling. and the way to make them more compelling is to make them more realistic. so if we can get some of the perspectives in that ron was describing and make it real, portray recovery in a good life and aa meetings in a realistic way, as a really cool place to be and an amazing way to live, we get better portrayals. ron, give us a picture of what they're really like. oh, they're fantastic, our social events that are serious during the meeting. but we have what we call the meeting before, people getting together and getting their coffee and
getting settled and hugging each other and loving each other, these are people that have been together for 20, 25, sometimes 30 years and supporting each other. then the meeting where there is no talking. we listen to whatever discussions or speakers and after the meeting, we usually grab a gang of people and go out to eat or have some coffee together and what we call fellowship. it's a great way to live, you know, it's much better than living in addiction. i mean, there is no comparison for me and you know, people always...everyone knew when i was an addict. everyone knew that i was high; no one said anything. and so now that i'm in recovery, i don't want to hide that. i'm proud of being in recovery and i don't have to hide behind that i'm not in recovery. that's excellent. mark, let's talk a little bit about co-occurring conditions. co-occurring conditions. well, quite often when we're portraying stories
about individuals in the media, it's not all so clean cut. it's not just an addiction or a mental illness, there's usually involves addiction, mental illness, maybe even heart disease, some kind of condition that is contributing to what is going on in the storyline and, quite frankly, when you begin to develop interesting storylines or lyrics, sometimes when you get down to the basic issue, it is an underlying mental illness or addiction and showing how those multiple conditions all contribute to what is going on in that individual's life quite often creates a very interesting story. and so as the media portrays addiction, they also need to look at all the other things that are going on in an individual's life, how it contributes to resolving the problem and how it contributes to the problem itself. and samhsa is helping individuals
that are through the media you mentioned a few initiatives that we have. you want to mention them again. we do a number of things, i mean, between public service advertising, working with the advertising council, we do outreach with entertainment industries council, we work with hollywood health & society. what we want to do is we want to take the resources the federal government has, the science that we have behind the information, make sure that those storylines are credible because if they're not credible, they're not believable, you know, we lose our entry into the audience to begin with and so what can we do to support those who are in recovery, getting the story out? what can we do to help those who are working with the industry get the accurate information out? and what can we do to just overall raise awareness amongst the public about addiction into mental illnesses so that people are informed. they can take steps early on and not wait until the train wreck happens in somebody's life.
so again, treating mental illnesses and addictions are a lot like any other health condition, intervene early, let's help the person into recovery quickly. sandra. i want to refer to mark's comment about getting the information out. one thing we know from research is that there's a factor in storytelling on television, film, and new media that's called transportation. it's really a measure of the level of engrossment. so if there's a very compelling story and, of course, hollywood writers are among the master storytellers of the world, people lose their surroundings, they forget what time it is, they come to see the characters as their family or friends. they care deeply what happens to them. this is being transported. and in that state of transportation, people are much more open to learning. they have much higher knowledge gains. so in getting the information out, as mark said,
if it is an integral part of a very compelling story, people will learn more. and this is why it's so critical that the writers and the producers be knowledgeable about addiction treatment because the only way to do that is if they're armed with that information. correct, sandra? it's correct. and one example is on the cw network at the show 90210, which is a show for young people, they did a 6-week story arc on bipolar disorder among youth. and hollywood health & society consulted on that. we had a psychiatrist consult. the show actually sent us, they sent us the script ahead of time. in fact, they sent us the rough edits. so we sat with a psychiatrist in our office for a second round to review every episode, which is very rare for a network to do and they did an excellent job. we then collaborated with samhsa to develop a public service announcement.
we got permission and samhsa helped us develop a script. and this psa featured this gorgeous young actress who was the woman with bipolar disorder in the story referring young people to a special landing page, a web site. and we tracked the traffic. there were huge spikes the day of the show and the day after this psa aired. and kids actually could enter discussion threads. and there were some really heart-breaking stories in there; kids who said, "i've been telling my parents for 2 years there's something wrong with me; now i know i have bipolar disorder, they don't believe me." well, in this case it was one of samhsa's partner groups, they had trained therapists in the discussion group who could actually refer kids to help. and when we come back, we're going to be talking a little bit more about media literacy and how the general public can get engaged. we'll be right back. [music] for more information on national alcohol & drug addiction recovery month events
in your town and how you can get involved, visit the recovery month web site at recoverymonth.gov. mornings used to be the toughest. before i got treatment for my addiction, it was the little things that were hardest to bear. but now that i'm free of drugs and alcohol, it's the little things that give me the most joy. recovery, it gave me back my life. now i can give back. for drug and alcohol treatment referral for you or someone you know, call 1(800)662-help. the mission of our nonprofit getting them sober foundation is simply to help reeducate families of alcoholics
and the mental health profession so that they can better effectively get more people into treatment and save lives. she can see the consequences of her diseases, that kind of thing. what we're working on now is helping those mental health professionals in the media who mean well. they really want to help, but they call families, sponsors of alcoholics' enablers. and that just makes them feel ashamed and they drop out of treatment. but what we're suggesting instead is that they use the word "rescuers." that's such a nice word, it's a kind word and people go, "oh, yeah, i'm a rescuer." too many times, we hear the newly sober alcoholic or addict, they come back after a relapse and they say, i wouldn't have gone out that time if i hadn't been enabled. and that's one of the really bad things about using the word enabler. he can't do that if we say, she just helped him and rescued him, you know, it doesn't have that connotation of it's your fault. in my first book, getting them sober, volume 1, has sold a million copies by word of mouth; no publicity,
no promotion because it's got hundreds and hundreds of practicable, doable suggestions that are easy, that are gentle, that the family can do and it changes everything in the house so he has a much better chance of getting sober, to choose sobriety. the gettingthemsober.com web site has a hundred plus recovery tips of the month to read free and to print out and use all you want in teaching, whatever. it has a discussion bulletin board that's monitored for safety 24/7, so families don't get trashed. it has articles, "how to know if he's serious about getting sober when he says he wants to get sober," "what happens if alcoholics stop going to aa." all that stuff is on the web site and it's free for everyone. for many years, the media, meaning well but didn't know, depicted alcoholics and drug addicts as like, you know, they're in the gutter,
where 97 percent of them are your neighbors, the judges, the doctors, the lawyers, the people you're married to. the media is starting to realistically portray average people as alcoholics and drug addicts. it's not just your movie stars, and that makes it so much easier for people to say, oh yeah, you know, my husband's an engineer. and they're showing engineers who have a problem, okay, and who are well functioning; like he can't be because he's well functioning and he just got a promotion and a raise. but if they don't see the progression of the disease, it's going to take him down. i think there is so much hope, you know. unfortunately, the really terrible stories, they draw more ratings. so people don't want to report on that and i understand that; they want to get viewers, of course. but the real hope is in what i call... what we used to call the silent majority. that's the people who get help, go about their lives, rebuild their families, that's the majority of people who go for help. doug, what is media literacy?
media literacy is the ability to understand the messages and the media that one is exposed to and to realize what's being communicated, interpret the messages and be able to act on them appropriately, don't get fooled, understand what the content is and be able to confidently interpret it and integrate it into your life, into your world view. and, mark, why should people need to react if they see an incorrect portrayal of addiction treatment or behavioral health issues on any media? one of the key things that we've talked about here today is having the level of awareness and understanding so that if you see something that does not seem to be right, check it out: what's the source? why are they trying to convey that message to you? that ultimately gets to, you know, if the incentive behind the person sending the message
is not necessarily in your best interest, why are you paying attention to them? it gets to the ultimate profit motive of our media as well. that's why it's important to them in the long run to be sending accurate messages about addiction and recovery, so that the public gets a better sense of what is going on, how it's portrayed, and, ultimately, have the opportunity to seek help if they need it themselves, to help someone they know get treatment or get into some kind of counseling or support early on. and one of the great things about the media and why it's such a critical partner is people are inviting the media into their homes, unlike when we do brochures or pamphlets, you know, we're out there knocking on doors trying to get people to take this stuff. these storylines and the music and the videos and the online, people are welcoming this into their home. they're proactively seeking this information.
what a great opportunity to convey accurate information that is helpful and healthy to those who are watching. ron, if they see this misinformation, what should they do? i don't know if they know if they're seeing misinformation. that's the problem, i think. and i think they've seen the portrayal since the beginning that it's being portrayed. and they see the train wreck like everybody said. and that goes to a certain point and they show someone may be going to an aa or an na meeting and picking up a white chip and they don't pursue the journey after that. you never see the spiritual side of recovery on what this disease is really about. so i would suggest that they sort of weigh it in their own mind and pick up the phone and there are organizations, aa and na, that will portray the correct message. and faces and voices of recovery certainly gets engaged in... faces and voices of recovery are fantastic people.
they're part of our community and they do only good for the world. i mean, it's an incredible organization. but it really does take that, does it not? it takes people getting engaged, getting involved, calling individuals letting them know that they're not quite comfortable the way that things have been portrayed because stigma, really, it's totally perpetuated in many instances through bad portrayals. yes. i mean, one of the things we know about good compelling storylines is that it triggers the behaviors of, for example, talking with family members and friends about what they've seen, calling for further information. you know, we've done studies to look at searches on the web and the timing of those searches. what we've found is people are multitasking. if there's a great storyline on television
that's engrossing them, they will actually do a web search between the 9 and 10 p.m. hour when that show is on the air. they're not waiting till the end. so they've got sort of this multimedia thing going on. so we can't underestimate the power of tv storylines to actually trigger behavior. and one thing we know from other research is that when you make something a household word, it's a predictor of behavior change; it's an indicator that change will come. so making it a household word means that people actually break that stigma taboo and talk about addiction, treatment, and recovery... in a good way. in a good way. right, doug? i think one of the key themes that we've been all touching on in this discussion is the notion of authenticity. i think one of the things that ron pointed out is that portrayals of recovery in the media are not necessarily as authentic as they can be and that when portrayals are authentic and they're engaging, they bring people in and the make them want to learn more and be part of the solution
and not simply watching the train wreck and getting satisfaction out of that. i think we need to figure out how to frame messages about recovery and integrate authentic depictions of recovery into programming. and recovery month really tries to do that. i think recovery month not only through this show, we feature voices for recovery through this show and it really, it's fascinating because people don't just sugar-coat it. they say, you know, this is a trajectory of what i went through and this is where i am right now, correct, ron? i know that we've shot you and... definitely; it has to be realistic. and, but i think this is about the recovery community as a whole. we're trying to put a positive face on recovery, not a negative face on addiction. and there's the big difference between addiction and recovery and to portray addiction is necessary. but it's also more necessary to portray a correct event
on how recovery is in people's lives. and that's what i talked about the anonymity issue is we need more people, successful people in recovery standing up and saying, "i'm in recovery and i'm proud of it." what about the family and friends of people in recovery? they're in recovery too, right? so recovery month isn't just about the addict or the alcoholic. it's also about people who've been impacted by alcoholism or drug addiction. it's really everyone that is affected by this issue that needs to really get engaged with the media or online and really have a voice, correct doug? yeah. i think social support is obviously part of what we're talking about here. i mean, you know, we know from studies of lots of public health programs that delivering a message in one way through one channel is
a lot less likely to work than if we surround the individual with messages, so they're getting it through the media, they're getting it through programs, they're getting it through social support, that's all part of the solution. we're much more likely to be successful and changing the way we think about recovery and having more people in recovery if we focus on multifaceted programs that include social supports. the whole notion of education outreach, resilience in recovery also needs to be portrayed. how can people really... i want to go back to what people can actually do. should they be calling their television stations? should they be calling the producers? should they be advocating, you know, for this to happen, mark? well, i think every individual has a responsibility to take action when they see something is inaccurate, wrong, and there are many ways you can do that.
and there are constructive ways and there are not so productive ways. so picking up the phone as an individual, such as yourself, and saying, you know, i don't like the way that was on the show, let's talk to you about recovery; why don't you come to one of our meetings. and, quite frankly, you'll have an opportunity to educate someone and maybe convert one more person, one person at a time. and the media again is so critical because our families and kids are inviting the messages into their homes. when they see something that said, you know, that looks like me; that looks like what i'm going through, it's very accurate, it's very close to what i am experiencing. and then we've been great enough to work with a group like hollywood health & society and build a message in where you can call to get help. and that's where you see the spikes in the calls and you see the people going online. so everyone has a responsibility to bring the resources they have access to bear. you know, at samhsa, we work with the writers through organizations
to provide science so information is accurate. the writers tell it in a compelling way and so we all have our place and responsibility. and there's no better way to talk about recovery than by observing national alcohol and drug addiction recovery month in september. and we call on you not only to become active viewers and media literate but also to get engaged and get your family involved in national alcohol and drug addiction recovery month. thank you for being here. great show. for a copy of this program or other programs in the road to recovery series, call samhsa at 1 (800)662-help or order online at recoverymonth.gov and click "multimedia." every september, national alcohol & drug addiction recovery month
provides an opportunity for communities like yours to raise awareness of alcohol and drug use disorders and highlight the effectiveness of treatment. in order to help you plan evevents and activities n commemoration of this year's recovery month observance, the free recovery month kit offers ideas, materials, and tools for planning, organizing, and realizing an event or outreach campaign that matches your goals and resources. to obtain your copy of this year's recovery month kit and gain access to other free publications and materials related to addiction, treatment and recovery issues, visit the recovery month web site at www.recoverymonth.gov or call 1(800)662-help. it's important that everyone become involved because addiction is our nation's number one health problem and treatment is our best tool to address it.